Blog: Insights from a global perspective

Published on 17 May 2019

David Benton is Chief Executive of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), a US-based not-for-profit organisation aiming to advance regulatory excellence worldwide. Prior to taking up this role, he was Chief Executive of the International Council of Nurses.

David Benton blog

As a registered nurse, and having been involved in nurse regulation for nearly four decades, I appreciate the important role that the NMC plays in protecting the public and aligning the competencies of the profession with the ever-changing needs of citizens.

I have been fortunate to work nationally, regionally and globally on the area of the reform of regulation and it is imperative that in its new strategy, the NMC sets a direction that will deal with the issues the profession is currently facing, as well as those that are emerging.

In this blog post, I address three challenging issues that I believe will be important for the NMC to master.

Professional mobility

Firstly, professional mobility is on the increase and as well as addressing all its core functions in a proactive, proportionate and agile manner, the NMC will increasingly need to forge relationships with jurisdictions around the world.

Not only will this facilitate the speedy movement of individuals, but simultaneously and importantly, it will help protect citizens from sub-standard practice or those with criminal histories.

To this end, regulators will need to embrace technology further, standardise their data collection, as well as assure the secure transfer of information between jurisdictions. Such technological developments will provide the public and employers with near real-time information that will ensure nurses and midwives practice competently, wherever they are working.

Making the most of digital technology

Secondly and increasingly, digital technology is playing a major role in the delivery and quality assurance of practice. In the past, the pace of these developments has often left the regulator on the back foot when responding to the need to offer guidance on, for example, the use of social media.

Today and tomorrow, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) will present several significant challenges, and it is essential that the NMC strategy is proactive in assessing and addressing the ethical issues that using AI and robotics may pose to the nurse or midwife.

Predictive analytics and AI algorithms are also likely to have a direct impact on the management of regulatory core functions, such as the review and determination of complaints. Both the profession and the public will need to be educated as to how such approaches work if they are to have confidence in the way the NMC and other regulators discharge their conduct and discipline functions.

Strategies to deal with an ageing population

Thirdly, as the composition of society changes, with increasing numbers of individuals living into their eighties and nineties, the need to redefine the roles and skills associated with health and social care teams will manifest itself.

Not only will we need to think about the continuum of practice from support staff through to advanced practitioners, but also across what was often seen as sectoral boundaries.

Some countries, such as Japan, have been facing such shifts for some time and accordingly the ability to share best, or at least promising, practices across these new frontiers of care, education and regulation will be essential if NMC finds efficient and effective solutions.

As we move towards the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, we must remember her words that unless we continue to make progress, we are heading backwards.

By seeking views, the NMC is taking an important step in not only moving forward, but also making sure that we stride forward in the right direction!

Read more of David Benton's views in his series of articles in the Journal of Nursing Regulation:

Bibliometric Review: Identifying Evolving and Emergent Regulatory Trends
Analysis and Priorities: Developing a Modern, Effective, Regulatory Framework.

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